IN a shocking case of domestic violence, a 30-year-old Mutasa businessman who was in the process of divorcing his wife burnt her in a kitchen hut with the help of his employee.
The now late Joyce Surudzo was refusing to vacate their matrimonial house pending the finalisation of their divorce settlement at the High Court when her estranged husband set her on fire.
Henry Elijah Surudzo of Watsomba was arrested together with his employee, Tadiwa Mhere (20), of the same area.
The duo appeared before Mutasa magistrate, Mr Artwell Sanyatwe, facing murder charges as defined in Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.
They were remanded in custody to June 2 and were advised to apply for bail at the High Court since they are facing a Third Schedule offence.
Public prosecutor, Mr Tinashe Madziwa said the murder was committed on May 11.
“On May 11 at around midnight, the now deceased person, Joyce Surudzo, was sleeping in a kitchen hut which she used as her bedroom when she saw a light. She woke up to investigate what was happening.
“She opened the door and saw her husband holding a lit match stick which he threw on the ground, igniting a fire in the process.
“The fire grew into a huge flame, thereby forcing the deceased to retreat back into the kitchen.
“She failed to escape through the window as there were burglar bars. As the fire grew bigger, the now deceased gathered enough courage and bolted through the fireball, resulting in her sustaining serious burns,” said Mr Madziwa.
After the escape, she was assisted by neighbours who rushed her to Old Mutare Mission Hospital for medical attention.
She was later transferred to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital where she succumbed to the burns on May 16.
The court heard that before she died, she told neighbours that her husband and his employee were behind the arson attack.
It was also established that the couple was embroiled in a fierce divorce which resulted in Joyce obtaining a protection order against her husband.
Detectives handling the case also gathered that an unknown flammable liquid was used in the arson attack.
Domestic violence is rife in Zimbabwe.
According to the country’s Demographic and Health Survey for 2015, the most recent such survey available in the country, more than one-third (35 percent) of women aged between 15 and 49 have been beaten by their partners.
— Manica Post